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Casualty in a confined space or complex environment

Hazard Knowledge

Rescuing a casualty from a confined space, or an environment with complex or extensive layouts, may require specialist resources. However, initial responders may need to attempt to carry out a rescue before additional teams or agencies arrive.

Confined spaces

The hazards of rescuing a casualty from a confined space may be compounded by other factors, such as:

  • The presence of substances or conditions that could impact on the health and safety of personnel and casualties
  • The potential for a hazard to be introduced during an incident, such as water or other liquids, or free-flowing solids
  • The need to work below ground or at height
  • Difficulties with extricating the casualty due to manual handling restrictions

Due to the nature of materials present in some confined spaces, emergency responders and the casualty may need to undergo decontamination.

Personnel may need to rescue casualties from locations that are defined as confined spaces, such as:

Complex environments

Complex or extensive layouts, especially of below ground structures, may present similar hazards as found in confined spaces when rescuing a casualty. Some incidents, such as the collapse of a structure, may result in casualties being located in an environment with complex or extensive layouts. The hazards can include:

  • Restricted access and egress
  • Reduced visibility
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Difficulties with manual handling and transporting of the casualty

For further information refer to Height, structures and confined spaces – Below ground structures.